Schwannoma – a surprising health benefits of acetylsalicylic acid

Scientists from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Massachusetts General Hospital suggested a potential therapeutic role of acetylsalicylic acid in inhibiting vestibular schwannoma growth. Their results, published in Otology & Neurotology journal, might bring significant clinical implications in the future.

Vestibular schwannoma (VS, also called an acoustic neuroma) is rare, usually slow-growing tumor of the inner ear arising in vestibulocochlear nerve (8th cranial nerve). VS tends to develop gradually over few years. Primary manifestations of the disease are ipsilateral sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disturbances. Despite of usually being benign condition, untreated large tumors can severely affect neurological functions due to compression on the cranial nerves and become life-threatening. Treatment options for VS include surgical tumor removal or stereotactic radiotherapy, both associated with potentially serious complications. Currently there are no FDA-approved drug therapies to treat this condition.

Researchers from Massachusetts recently revealed, for the first time, that acetylsalicylic acid administration correlates with halted growth of VS in vivo. Their finding was based on retrospective analysis of over 600 patients with a diagnosis of VS. Patient’s use of acetylsalicylic acid and VS growth rate were measured by changes in the largest tumor dimension as noted on serial MRIs. In 347 (50.3%) cases the a serial MRI scans have been followed. Patients were divided into two groups: 81 of them took acetylsalicylic acid and 266 people were nonacetylsalicylic acid users. In the first group 33 (40,7%) individuals demonstrated VS growth and 48 (59,3%) did not while in the second group the obtained results were 154 (57,9%) and 112 (42,1, respectively. Additionally a significant inverse association was found among acetylsalicylic acid users and vestibular schwannoma growth (odds ratio: 0.50, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.29-0.85), which was not confounded by age or sex.

VS is the most common tumor of the cerebellopontine angle and the fourth most common intracranial tumor. Aforementioned data might bring a new insight into therapeutic management in this group of patients. However, clinical prospective studies are required to assess efficacy of this well-tolerated anti-inflammatory drug.

Written by: Justyna Markowicz, Tomasz Roman, Agnieszka Szymczyk

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